Taming Brax

emelyssa

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Brax

This past spring, I had a dream that two feral tabby brothers showed up to my porch and that I loved them and needed to adopt them. Within a few weeks after the dream, they both showed up in real life! I fed them on my front porch and some members of thecatsite suggested that I trap them and work on taming them within my home. These are five year old feral cats.

I trapped Drexl on May 13. He had already been neutered through the city's TNR program when he was about one (along with vet estimates, this info from his microchip and city helps me know their age). Drexl was easy to tame! He was skittish at first with other members of my family, but from day 1 was thrilled to find himself in my home. He gave me so many kisses. While some have suggested he may have been in a home before, I do not think that's true. All human technology was new and surprising to him, for example. It probably helped that for one full month before I trapped him, I talked to him and reassured him every night while he hid and cried in my bushes. This happened every night. He is now completely happy and chill with everyone.

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Drexl

I trapped Brax on May 20. He was not so easy. Unlike Drexl, he had never been neutered. Also unlike Drexl, Brax is FIV+. I understand how that can go, but I am committed to doing my very best to take care of him and give him a lovely life, regardless of how long it is. Brax is now completely tame and happy to be a house cat! I followed advice from many lovely group members. Here's the breakdown of how things went if you are interested. At first, Brax was kept in my master bathroom. I had made a blanketed cave area for him under the sinks with his bed, litter pans and food / water. I eventually moved the cat pans out of the cave as he was exploring the bathroom when we weren't there. Several toys were in bathroom for him.

Weeks 1-2: Horrible. Brax was a true wild cat, for one. Second, the neuter was difficult on him and he had trouble with his recovery. At one point I even took him to the ER vet because he wasn't eating and I thought something was really wrong. I cried. I had a lot of doubts and wondered if I ruined his life by bringing him in.

Week 3: Brax gave me gremlin ears every time he saw me and was still unhappy. He sometimes hissed at me, sometimes lunged like he was going to attack me (he never actually did, only threatened), and sometimes reached out and smacked my hand hard but with no claws. However, I noticed that he was playing with toys when no one was around and in fact was choosing one special toy to place in his bed daily. This made me really start to like him, even though he made it clear feelings were not mutual. Every time I saw Brax, I spoke to him exactly as I would my favorite cat, no matter what. I always told him what a good boy he is and that I love him.

Weeks 4-7: Brax decided to come out of the cave into the bathroom to visit with me at midnight every night. He would eat in front of me, groom, nap, and play with all his toys. Sometimes he would invite me to play toys with him. I would sit with him on the bathroom floor every night from midnight to 1-1:30 a.m. no matter how tired I was. I was respectful of Brax's rules and boundaries. For example, I knew he didn't want me within a certain proximity, he didn't want me to stand up and use sinks when I was visiting, and no touching! But, every night he would move closer and closer to me and reduce the boundary. I would talk to Brax the whole time I would visit. He enjoyed verbal compliments and would make blinky eyes. He would also come when I called him.

Week 8: Brax decided to become a house cat. He learned how to open the bathroom door and made it clear that I was not to lock him in there again. He was a little afraid of ceiling fans at first and hid behind the sofa in my bedroom his first day out. He decided he wasn't afraid of me, or my family members or my dog. He took over the dog's bed! He still wasn't allowing petting, but he would roll around and purr and knead when we gave compliments. As Week 8 progressed, Brax began brushing against my legs as much as possible. He would want me to walk around the bedroom so he could walk between my legs and brush himself against my legs. No petting or touching with hands allowed. He would smack us hard (but no claws) if we tried it.

Week 9-10: Brax sleeps in our bed with us at night and loves being pet. By Week 10, I am even allowed to rub the belly. Brax has full run of the house now and loves playing with his brother Drexl. Brax is a fully tame cat!! He loves loves loves being a house cat.

So, while the journey was emotional and difficult at first, it was so worth it. I am thrilled that I made my dream come true. I have two wonderful five year old cats living the luxurious life after so long on the street. With our 105 degree weather in TX, I am especially grateful that I followed the advice in this forum and took the more immersive approach to taming these cats.

And to anyone that thinks an adult feral cat can't be tamed- they absolutely can. They are domestic kitties; being companion to humans is in their DNA. But, the process requires time, patience and love. Worth it.
 
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emelyssa

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Yes. I think I got lucky that it only took 8 weeks with Brax!!! Consistency, patience, and respecting boundaries would be my #1 tips, along with lots of talking and comforting to the cat.

I should add that while Drexl was easy, I still spent at least two hours of dedicated time with him a day just to bond and play with him. This was on top of the time I was spending with Brax!
 

Avery

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Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful story. Very helpful for others in similar situations who might be feeling discouraged. You have done a great job with Drexl and Brax, and I just love reading about the happy results!
 

shadowsrescue

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Thank you so much for the update. I remember your story from the spring. You did a wonderful job!! So happy that Brax and Drexl are safe and in a great home!
 

poolcat

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Thank you for posting Drexl and Brax's story. I found myself smiling as I read it. It gives me hope that it may be possible to socialize a not-friendly outdoor cat that I've been feeding for several years.
 
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